Shame Grows in the Dark
I’ve been training and practicing in Transactional Analysis (TA) for over six years alongside being a professionally certified Coach. TA is a psychology which tells us that, at a very young age, we make decisions based on the meaning we make from what happens around us. From this we form a narrative and adjust our way of being in our world to manage the perceptions we experience through that narrative we built.
This removes us a little from a direct link between what happens around us and to us and the impact of this on our worlds. This is important because this distinction offers us an opportunity to take responsibility for what we experience and what we feel, think and do as a result.
We build shame into our narrative when we are small too.
Brene Brown says “Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging”. Shame grows in secrecy, in the dark corners of us as we submerge into learning to cover up our truest selves and our truest way of being in the world.
Abusers smell out the shame in us and they use it to make sure they get to play out their narrative too, like a lever for access. Just as someone carrying deepest shame about their lovability and right to belong will regularly seek evidence that this is the case, that their beliefs are true, so will abusers. An abuser is likely to have a narrative centered in life not being fair for them, the people they are likely to target being more important and potent than they are and needing to be ‘taken down a peg or two’. They will persecute from a victim (‘poor me’) stance. They will seek rescue or persecution in doing so.
The means of being systematically devalued, of being confirmed as shameful, or being invited to participate in an abusive relationship will mirror the early part of our lives when we made the decision that we are not loveable, not enough and that we don’t have the right or welcome to belong.
We repeat what we don’t repair.
Our abusers are repeating unrepaired wounds also.
I invite you to consider what attracted you to your abuser by answering these questions today. The process you enter in considering and answering these will help you to step back from what happened (or is happening) and look at it from a helpful distance. Your answers to these questions will start to let in the light:
● What thoughts and feelings did you have about them as you were falling into the relationship?
● How did these relate to your younger life?
● What beliefs about yourself did you manage to confirm at this stage?
● At what point did you decide to allow the abuse to continue?
● How did your abuser feed your shame?
● What would you think, feel or do differently if you could go back with more options available to you?
I want to remind you that you always have options, that there is help out there for you, that you are not alone.